DIY SLR Lens Case

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I’m going on vacation on Monday.  I’m also bringing my camera, and my lenses.  I just got this super sweet 11-16mm ultra wide lens. And now have no room in my old camera bag for my stuff.  (Plus I’m taking my dad’s flash, and a couple other things.  So I found this large, old camera bag in our basement.  It fits all of the stuff I’m taking, except it’s big, and my lenses don’t have cases, so they’d roll around in there on the flight, and stuff.  So with the help of my dad, we made a custom case for two lenses, and one will remain on my D60.

We choose to use some Great Stuff foam insulation as the insulation, and zip-lock bags as the containers.  Because that foam gets everywhere, and never comes off, I didn’t take any pictures of actually spraying it in, and stuff like that.

We used soup cans to stand in for the camera lenses, because again, that foam gets everywhere.  As it turns out, a soup can is the perfect diameter and height  for the Nikon 18-55mm VR, and 55-200mm VR lenses, for the 55-200mm, we added a can of tuna to the top for some extra height, as it is taller.

Step 1. Prepare the Bags

Prepare the bags.  Place the lens stand in in a zip-lock bag, close it, and do it again.  Put both those bags into a larger 1-gallon bag. This 1-gallon bag will serve as the container for the foam.  The inside bags are so that we can remove the soup cans and have a cavity, if they weren’t there the foam would stick to the cans and they’d be stuck.   Place all of that inside the camera bag compartment.

Note – if you want this to be part of your camera bag, then just put the two soup can bags into a compartment and continue.

Move them around until you get them in a comfortable position.

Step 2. Spray the Foam

This is the hardest part of the job.  You can’t fill it up with foam for 2 reasons

  1. It will expand to about 4x the size
  2. The top will dry first leaving no air to dry the bottom, and you will be left with liquid goo

I made the second mistake at first, and had to redo it all.  But that’s ok, learn from my mistake.  Spray a bead of foam all around the bottom of the larger bag.  Let it sit and harden for at least an hour.  Look it over, if it’s hard keep adding a bead of foam until you reach the top of the soup can.  Don’t worry if when it expands it covers the top of the can, (like in the photo to the right), you can cut that away later.

If there are pockets of liquid, you have 2 choices.  Start over, or cut some holes.  If there’s only a bit of liquid, I suggest cutting holes.

I cut a strip along the side of the gallon bag to let some air in to harden the foam that got stuck.
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Step 3. Opening  it up

After it’s hard begin to cut away the top of the larger bag until you get to the top of the soup cans.  Cut any foam away if it got in the way, and cut open the tops of the inner bags.  Remove the soup cans and look at the holes you just made.  Test it out, take the lenses and put them inside make sure they come out easily.  If it’s tight anywhere, just cut some of the foam away.  It might be a good idea to cut two notches alittle way down the sides to slip your fingers in, just to make it easier to take them out.

Step 4. Finishing Touches

After you open it up and get it all perfect, you need to close the edges off.  If not only to make it look nicer, it will protect your lenses from the foam that could scrape off, keep expanding, and generally, just get everywhere.

I used some masking tape, but any tape should do.  I folded it around the edges of the openings, and then wrapped it a few times to cover the holes I cut in the bag, and give it a finished look.

If you noticed in the above photos, there’s not much of any padding on the bottom.  That could be fixed in two ways.  You could cut a slit in the larger bag and spray some foam in there, or you can do what I did which is easier and cleaner.  Get some sponge foam, or cloth, or balled up newspaper, and put it on the bottom of the holes.  This has the added benefit of lifting the lenses up an inch or two and making it easier to take them out.

I used squares of sponge foam that I had laying around.  I cut myself 4 pieces of it and put one in each hole:

Another benefit of adding the foam is that now I can fit all three of the lenses in the holder (not at the same time of course).

After that’s done, put it in you’re camera bag, and enjoy your new lens holder.

Another benefit of this is that the system is removable, so if you get a new camera bag, you can take that out and still have perfect holders.

On a side note, I love my 11-16mm Tokina, it’s awesome, there are more on display over on my pictures’ site.

I Love it!.

One response to “DIY SLR Lens Case

  1. Warning! You can damage lenses packing them in outgassing materials. Some foams outgas years after they are made. Use the right stuff!

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